Time When Dreams Melt
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by Aleksei Vakhrushev
color/b&w, 14 min, 1996
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The Time When Dreams Melt was shot in Northeastern Russia in the Providenia District of the Chukchi Autonomous Region, an area occupied by the Yupik Eskimos of Northeast Asia for millennia.
The protagonist of the film is a collective character, he calls himself "Yupik-The True Man" the same way his ancestors referred to themselves. The story he tells is based on the life of the Asian Eskimo from earliest history to the present. Through his eyes we experience contemporary Eskimo life; the summer walrus hunt, life in the village and also the insistent memory of a vivid past, an Eskimo childhood spent in harmony with the land before the turning point, the tragic year, 1958. It was then that government policy forcefully removed the Native Eskimos from their seashore villages to a bay nearer the administrative center of the area. The government made many promises to support the indigenous people, promises which were never kept. The protagonist becomes a witness to the death of the old people, the carriers of culture, and to the ensuing degradation of the people. He tries to find the result of the much publicized moving of Eskimos from their native places. The conclusion of the protagonist is paradoxical; in spite of the great loss of human life and spirit, the Eskimos have managed to retain basic elements of traditional culture and ethnic identity. They hope to return to the land of their ancestors and recover the past strength of their people.
The filmmaker is Yupik. He has made the exploration of the history, culture, spiritual and social life of the native people of the far northeast of Russia the focus of his film projects.
*Instructors note: Show this film with a title from the Netsilik Eskimo Series for an interesting "compare and contrast" student exercise.
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
20th Moscow International Film Festival, 1997
11th International Visual Anthropology Festival, Parnu, 1997 French Embassy Prize
International Film Festival "Man and the Sea", Vladivostok, Russia, 1997